An arable farmer in Berkhamsted received a £50,000 LEADER grant to purchase a new drill that will help him expand operations and improve his business’s competitive advantage.
Steve Herod runs A1 Agricultural Contracting, which carries out farming operations over a 20 square mile radius of Hertfordshire. In a drive to take a more sustainable approach to arable farming and to increase the output of the business, Steve decided to invest in a new type of drill – a cross slot drill. This drill is unlike any other in the area and offers the prospect of increased output. Steve applied for funding from the LEADER Programme, which delivers grants to rural businesses, to help him purchase the drill, and a £50,000 grant followed.
Steve outlined some of the benefits of the technology: “This is a type of drill that no one else in the area has, giving us an edge over other contractors and farmers. We hope that we will be able to increase the contract work that we do off the back of this drill, which would make a great contribution to the business, increasing turnover and leading to us being able to recruit new staff.
“The new drill adds an innovative and exciting element to our offering. It reduces soil disturbance and has been shown to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertiliser and artificial fertiliser required on the land over time, which reduces costs and improves the environmental effects of the farming we and our clients undertake.”
Steve was clear that the LEADER funding was crucial to the success of the project: “It would have been very hard to proceed with purchasing the drill if we hadn't received the funding, as we had only recently taken on the tenancy of Hill Farm, a 130ha National Trust farm, and this had impacted our cash flow."
Steve continued: “Even a delay in funding would have been problematic given that we could have missed an entire drilling season. But the LEADER grant came through and delivered exactly what we required to go ahead and purchase the drill.
“The support we received from the LEADER team during the application process was excellent and their help made the whole process much easier than it otherwise would have been.”
Will Dallimore, LEADER Programme Manager, said: “Investing in new technologies is one of the bedrocks of business growth. Steve identified the drill he required and made a great case for the funding in his application.
“If a rural business owner has a project in mind, they should get in touch with us at the LEADER Programme to discuss potential funding for it.”